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Mock College Football Playoff, Week 13

Another big loss prompts another change to the semifinals.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing with the regular rotation, in this week we'll again look at the scenario in which the Orange and Cotton Bowls will host semifinals. The first time we'll see that happen in real life is with the bowls after the 2015 regular season.

For anyone who is new to these mocks, the BCS standings sub in for the selection committee's rankings, and the highest ranked team from each conference is the presumed conference champion.

Semifinal A

No. 1

No. 4

Cotton Bowl

Alabama Baylor

For the second consecutive week, Alabama has a new opponent. Last week, it was Stanford sliding up into the semifinal opposite the Tide after Oregon lost to the Cardinal. Now, it's Baylor finally getting a spot in the top four after Stanford couldn't handle its success. This game obviously sets up to be a nice offense/defense matchup, but both teams are better on the other side of the ball than they get credit for.

Semifinal B

No. 2

No. 3

Orange Bowl

FSU Ohio State

This semifinal situation is easily the most friendly to FSU. Any time that both No. 1 and No. 2 are in the same general region, No. 2 is going to get an unfriendly draw. Alabama is fine with either semifinal site, so the Seminoles can get the nice Orange Bowl bid. In the other two situations, FSU will have to go out west to either the Rose Bowl or Fiesta Bowl. It doesn't matter a whole lot right now with Ohio State being a long way from any of the semifinal sites, but if Oregon had stayed unbeaten or if Baylor gets up to third, it would be a different story. Until and unless they some day move the semifinals to campuses, this potential problem will always be out there.

Contract Bowl

Pac-12 Champ

Big Ten

Rose Bowl

Oregon Michigan State

Under these circumstances, the Rose Bowl actually gets its preferred matchup of Pac-12 champion Oregon and Big Ten champion Michigan State. Like with the Cotton Bowl, this sets up as a great offense/defense contrast. It would probably take some convincing from the Ducks, however, to get anyone to believe that this wouldn't be a repeat of their loss to Stanford.

Contract Bowl


Big 12

Sugar Bowl

Auburn Oklahoma State

By contract, the Sugar Bowl gets an SEC and Big 12 representative any time it doesn't host a semifinal. For the first time in any of these mocks, it has to select replacement teams for both slots thanks to Baylor finally getting into the semis. Auburn as the second-highest ranked SEC team and Oklahoma State as the same for the Big 12 get the matchup here. Once again, it's a great offense/defense contrast. It goes against type, but the SEC team is the former while the Big 12 team is the latter. Go figure.

Host Bowl West

Group of Five


Fiesta Bowl

Fresno State Stanford

The loss drops the Cardinal down to the Fiesta Bowl, where it will get the chance to annihilate Fresno. The highest ranked champion of the "Group of Five" mid-major conferences (AAC, CUSA, MAC, MWC, and Sun Belt) gets a guaranteed spot somewhere, and Fresno State is still that team. Having these two play out west makes the most sense as they're the westernmost teams among who is left.

Host Bowl East



Peach Bowl

Clemson Missouri

This scenario tidies up rather well with the Peach Bowl getting its customary ACC-SEC matchup with Clemson and Missouri. It doesn't require any shenanigans or logical backflips. It's what works.

This setup here might be the best and most interesting group of bowls of any I've run through so far in the mocks. We get a good contrast in most of these games, and in ones where we don't get an obvious contrast, we get wild shootout potential like the Orange Bowl and Peach Bowl. The Fiesta is probably a stinker, but as long as it's Fresno and not NIU or especially UCF (who hung with top-ten ranked South Carolina quite well), there's going to be one rotten apple.

Rose-Sugar semifinal scenario

Full explanation of this scenario here.

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Baylor

Rose Bowl: No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Orange Bowl: Clemson (ACC) vs. Auburn (SEC/B1G/ND)

Cotton Bowl: Missouri (at-large) vs. Stanford (at large)

Fiesta Bowl: Oregon (at large) vs. Oklahoma State (at large)

Peach Bowl: South Carolina (at large) vs. Fresno State (Group of Five)

This grouping was a tricky one this week, and it has the most potential to be tricky with two of the three contract bowls hosting semifinals. It's not like the other two where at least two of the non-semifinal bowls have contracts dictating the pairings. To come up with this, I went down the rankings and tried to do best by who is the highest in them.

Oregon is the highest ranked, so it gets the closest bowl to campus in the Fiesta. Next comes Mizzou, which would select the Cotton if possible. Stanford comes after MU, but going to the nearby Fiesta would create an undesirable regular season rematch with the Ducks. Therefore, the Cardinal goes to the next-closest bowl in the Cotton. Oklahoma State is right behind, and I gave it to the Fiesta because of the bowl's traditional tie with the Big 12. South Carolina follows, and it takes its place in the Peach Bowl. That then leaves Fresno State for the Peach.

I could see Oklahoma State maybe going to the Peach with Fresno in the Fiesta because Atlanta is actually about 140 miles closer to Stillwater than Glendale is. That choice would then leave a western team out west. This one is a situation where some kind of guidance as to how the selection committee will stock the bowls besides geographic advantage would be helpful, but I'm not sure the committee itself knows yet. I'm sure no one from the CFP reads these things, but in the off chance someone did, this is an issue to hash out well in advance of next December.

Fiesta-Peach semifinal scenario

Full explanation of this scenario here.

Peach Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Baylor

Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Rose Bowl: Oregon (Pac-12 champ) vs. Michigan State (Big Ten)

Sugar Bowl: Auburn (SEC) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12)

Orange Bowl: Clemson (ACC) vs. Missouri (SEC/B1G/ND)

Cotton Bowl: Fresno State (Group of Five) vs. Stanford (at-large)

These bowls are very similar to the main scenario this week. The semifinals are the same, of course, as are the Rose and Sugar Bowls are the same. The Orange Bowl pairing is the same as the above Peach Bowl pairing, and the Cotton Bowl matchup is the same as the above Fiesta Bowl matchup. The opponent groupings are no different, it's just that four of the six taking place in different venues.